Egypt squash stars proud to contest final of historic event in Saudi Arabia

Updated 14 January 2018
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Egypt squash stars proud to contest final of historic event in Saudi Arabia

LONDON: Egypt star and world No. 1 Nour El-Sherbini said she was “extremely proud” to be crowned the first Professional Squash Association Saudi Women’s Masters champion after beating compatriot Raneem El-Welily in the final in Riyadh.
In what was the first professional women’s squash tournament ever to take place in Saudi Arabia, El-Sherbini, 22, controlled proceedings to prevail a comfortable 3-0 winner and become the first female athlete in any sport to win a professional tournament staged in the Kingdom.
“I am extremely proud to have been part of this historical tournament,” El-Sherbini told SquashSite. “I want to thank everybody that made this event possible for us, we are blessed to have been part of it.
“I am proud to be the first PSA Saudi Women’s Masters champion — I hope to come back next year to defend my title — and from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank HRH Princess Reema and (PSA Chairman) Ziad Al-Turki and the crowd that came and supported us all week. We are all very grateful.”
The victory in the PSA World Series event was sweet for El-Sherbini as she lost to El-Welily in the final of last month’s Women’s AJ Bell PSA World Championship final. It moves her above El-Welily in the PSA World Series Standings and all but guarantees her place at the PSA World Series Finals in June.
“I felt that I was in control but at no time it was easy, even though I was ahead in the score, she was always coming back,” El Sherbini said. “After losing in the World Championship final, this match and this victory means a lot to me. But I know we will have many many more battles.”
El-Welily was disappointed to lose 11-7, 11-8, 13-11 but was just proud to be mark of a landmark event.
“This was an incredibly important tournament,” El-Welily said. “We all want to thank those who have achieved great things by putting on this event. We are grateful to Saudi Arabia for the opportunity to play here and to HRH Princess Reema and Ziad Al-Turki for their efforts in making the event happen and the opportunity to play in such an incredible tournament.”


Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.


• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>


Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)